ALICE SPRINGS NEWS,
February 9, 2006. This page contains all major reports and comment pieces in the current edition.



MARTIN'S NATIONAL PARKS STRATEGY HITS SNAG. Report by ERWIN CHLANDA.

Territory Chief Minister Clare Martin's policy on national parks, which has their surrender to Aboriginal ownership at its core, is hanging by a thread.
The Aboriginal Land Commissioner, Judge Howard Olney, has made it clear he has "disposed of" - without hearings - applications by the Central Land Council, which is seeking to turn most parks in Central Australia, including the iconic West MacDonnell Ranges, into Aboriginal land.
The Opposition is "picking up pace" in its fight against the government's strategy, according to Opposition Leader Jodeen Carney.
And this week there were talks at Prime Ministerial level about the role of the Federal Government, without whose consent the Martin policies cannot be implemented. Ms Martin claims the parks are under threat of land claims, and gives this as the reason for her parks strategy.
In the light of a statement from Judge Olney's office, made after an enquiry from the Alice Springs News last week, Ms Carney accused Ms Martin of being "deceitful".
CLP president Jenny Mostran says she "will be working on encouraging Clare Martin to change her mind.
"If she doesn't we'll have to look at another course of action," says Ms Mostran.
And Federal Member Dave Tollner says he will, for starters, ask the new Aboriginal Affairs Minister Mal Brough to delay consent for the parks handover, at least until the Territory public has been fully informed, and has had an opportunity of expressing its views. One top level CLP insider is even proposing a referendum, claiming interest in the issue is now on par with the growing opposition to the sale of the Territory Insurance Office.
Ms Martin has been stonewalling enquiries by the Alice Springs News into the basis of her policies since mid last year.
She claims, in essence, it's better to surrender the parks to Aboriginal ownership, and get a 99-year lease back, rather than contest land claims in court.
As it turns out, there are no current land claims over the parks in question (and the sunset clause of the Land Rights Act prohibits any further claims to be made).
Robert Bird, the executive officer of the Office of the Aboriginal Land Commissioner, explained in a letter to the Alice Springs News on Monday.
He says: "In Attorney-General (NT) v Ward ... the High Court raised questions as to the validity of the title held by the Conservation Land Corporation [which has freehold ownership of the Territory's parks] to the Keep River National Park.
"Whether the same or similar reasoning ... is applicable in relation to other areas of land held by the ... Corporation that are the subject of a traditional land claim under the Land Rights Act is not a matter that has been raised either before the Commissioner [Judge Olney] or a Court of competent jurisdiction.
"The NT Government has apparently concluded that the Ward decision 'almost certainly' applies in relation to certain parks and has adopted a strategy to deal with that situation. It would appear that each case may well depend upon its own circumstances but so far as the Commissioner is concerned, no request has been made to him to test the validity of the land claims.
"Unless or until this is done or a Court decides to the contrary, the Commissioner remains bound by the law as determined by the High Court [in two other cases] and has no alternative but to treat claims made to land held by the NT Land Corporation and the Conservation Land Corporation as not being valid traditional land claims under the Land Rights Act."
It would now appear that making any successful land claim over the national parks is a much longer shot than Ms Martin is asserting. Following the Alice Town Council's demand last year to halt the hand over process until more information has been made available by the NT government, Ms Martin wrote to council CEO Rex Mooney on December 21: "The [Land] Commissioner assesses land validly held by the Conservation Land Corporation as not able to be claimed.
"However our legal advice is that as a result of the Ward decision of the High Court, the titles are almost certainly not valid and so the Commissioner could in fact hear the claims, with the possible result that the eleven parks would be removed from the parks estate."
Despite numerous requests in Parliament and from the Alice Springs News, Ms Martin has never made public that advice.
There is debate in NT Country Liberal Party and Liberal Party circles about the proper way to proceed with Ms Martin's request for listing the parks as Aboriginal freehold under the Land Rights Act - which is Federal legislation.
Some say "convention" demands that the Federal Government act on matters of land in accordance with the wishes of the state or territory government.
The Alice News contacted a string of CLP and ALP figures but has been unable to get corroboration for this claimed convention.
In fact the opposite seems to be the case: despite serious reservations by the CLP governments at the time, Canberra pressed ahead with Aboriginal land rights.
The Federal Aboriginal Affairs Minister stopped the construction, already started by the NT Government, of a Todd River dam north of Alice Springs, still accepted as the only effective measure to stop potentially catastrophic flooding of the town. And only last year Canberra passed legislation to disable any NT Government moves aimed at blocking a dump for Commonwealth nuclear waste on land in the Territory.
Given Canberra's ability, in the absence of statehood, to intervene in Territory matters, the CLP, and its friends in Canberra, clearly hold the parks controversy's final trump card.
Will it be played?
At this point Ms Mostran will only say: "If the Chief Minister is being irresponsible we'll have to work around it.
"There is another course of action, and it's up to the CLP to consider it."


COUPLE TARGETED BY CRIMINALS SAY POLICE ACTION INADEQUATE. Report by ERWIN CHLANDA.

Larapinta resident Robbie Rolfe says he's been threatened with lethal weapons, and his house and yard have been burgled at least a dozen times over a period of about a fortnight, without triggering a serious police investigation, arrests or charges.
Police Superintendent Lance Godwin is denying the claims, saying "police have contacted Mr Rolfe to advance the matters he has reported but he has repeatedly declined our invitations to meet and displayed a disinterested attitude to any of our contacts".
However, Mr Rolfe says he took a full day off work to meet with detectives but they were not available to speak with him.
The following day they demanded to see him between 8am and 4pm - but he could not take time off work again, says Mr Rolfe.
He offered to speak with detectives after 4.30pm but they declined. Mr Rolf says one officer, whom he had phoned four times, had told him: "I'm a busy man and I get busy and that's the way it is."
The string of burglaries starting in mid to late January cost Mr Rolfe several thousand dollars, yet he says there has still been no comprehensive statement taken from him by police.
The only time police responded promptly was when he had hit a neighbor's dog about to attack his wife, Margaret, during an altercation about a bike stolen from their yard.
The thefts started when a bottle of Scotch went missing from a fridge on Mr Rolfe's back verandah.
Soon he discovered that a wallet and keys were missing as well, including an electronic car key costing $2000 to replace, an MP3 player and house keys, requiring a change of locks.
Thieves had climbed over the back fence to get into the yard and over the next couple of weeks returned several times, often in broad daylight.
Teenagers and a man in his 30s were seen and witnesses are able to give a description to the police.
Next a motorbike went missing, seen by neighbors over several days being ridden in the vicinity, and taken in and out of a house nearby.
Mr Rolfe says he'd confronted a woman in the house who said to him: "My son didn't steal your motorbike. Those other two boys did," and admitted her son had ridden the bike.
"Police said they didn't have a search warrant so they couldn't search premises where the motorcycle had been seen," says Mr Rolfe. He was getting resigned to the situation: "Everybody else has been robbed in the area so we'll have to be robbed, too, I suppose.
"We know there are numerous groups of young kids running around the area, they swim in people's pools and are doing whatever they like. They have no respect for other people's property."
Mr Rolfe says some time later, during a visit to a friend nearby, two carloads of Aboriginal people turned up and said they would "kill us and everybody in the street for hitting their dog with a stick.
"They were carrying fighting sticks, nulla nullas and hunting boomerangs."
Mr Rolfe says a man challenging him to a fight "was going to hunt me down and his family was going to hunt me down.
"It took 20 to 25 minutes before police arrived but they did not charge the man."
He says he was given a wallet stolen from him, found by police together with about 20 others in a drain, an indication of the large number of thefts in the area.
One bright experience was when a gardener, who'd heard of Mr Rolfe's plight, came 'round to mow his lawn, free of charge.
Mr Rolfe says he's now contemplating leaving town, after 24 years in Alice, as a businessman, Telstra employee, president of NT BMX and Feds Club, and growing up two sons born here.
Superintendent Godwin did not grant a request from the Alice News for an interview, but provided the following statement: "Police have acted appropriately and have responded on each occasion that a report has been received.
"We have engaged crime scene examiners to test for fingerprints or DNA evidence, located an alleged suspect within 10 minutes of the person being nominated by Mr Rolfe, increased patrols in the area and employed disruption techniques to deter any further offending.
"Police will continue to respond to Mr Rolfe's complaints and will meet with any member of the Rolfe family to discuss their issues with a view to working together to formulate solutions."


CATHOLIC SCHOOL'S LEAP FORWARD IN T.E.R. STAKES. Report by KIERAN FINNANE.

The achievement gap between Alice Springs' senior high schools narrowed last year, with OLSH College leaping forward to have an average TER of 72.55, compared to 65.53 in 2004.
Centralian Senior Secondary College (CSSC) had an average of 75.95 (75.46 in 2004), while St Philip's College had 73.5 (70.63 in 2004).
The TER (Tertiary Entrance Ranking) is a score calculated by university admission centres across Australia, and is the basis on which students are admitted to the university courses they want to do.
The TERs of Territory students are calculated by the Senior Secondary Assessment Board of South Australia (SSABSA).
The TER is distinct from the Northern Territory Certificate of Education (NTCE) score, and not all NTCE studies - for instance, vocational and community studies - generate a TER.
Alexandra Willick of St Philip's achieved the highest TER in Alice Springs with 98.85, a whisper in front of Jane O'Loughlin (OLSH) with 98.15, while Sylvie Giles (CSSC) got 97.25.
All three were among the Territory's top 20 students, as were Laura Packham and Sonia Johnson, both from CSSC.
(The highest TER score in the Territory was 99.8. This was achieved by Yvonne Chau of Casuarina Senior College, which produced 10 of the Territory's top 20, while Darwin High had five.)
For numbers of students achieving TERs of over 90, results for Alice's three senior high schools were again quite close: CSSC had 10 students, St Philip's had eight, and OLSH had six.
CSSC students achieved a total of nine perfect scores (with Sylvie Giles receiving three); OLSH had three; and St Philip's, two.
Pass rates for the NTCE were high: for CSSC 81 out of 89 completed their NTCE; at St Philip's 44 out of 45 students sitting for the full complement of subjects passed; at OLSH 34 out of 36 students passed.
At Alice Springs High six students sat for and got their NTCE and principal Peter Vaughan reports that they are all now in engaged in apprenticeships or permanent employment. Five out of the six were Indigenous.
Indigenous students sitting for their NTCE did well: at CSSC all eight enrolled to complete their NTCE in 2005 were successful. CSSC also produced the Territory's top Indigenous student, Cherisse Buzzacott.
Two Indigenous students sat for the NTCE at St Philip's and both passed and received a TER. There were no Indigenous NTCE candidates at OLSH last year, though it is expected that there will be a number this year.
OLSH principal Brother James Jolley puts the college's improved results down in part to the amount of time teachers put in to help. "But that's not a new practice," he said.
"From time to time you get a group of students who are keen and work together. You get a very positive atmosphere when that happens and we had that last year."
OLSH enrolments in the senior years have increased, with close to 60 in Year 12 this year.
Students are responding to broader curriculum offerings, says Br Jolley, including VET (vocational education and training) subjects.
The college is cooperating with CSSC and CDU, with some students going to CDU for VET courses, while last year CSSC's only drama candidate took her classes at OLSH.
While this seems like the way to go in a small town (and OLSH has also discussed the possibilities with St Philip's), coordinating the school's different timetables makes it a difficult task.


DESERT KNOWLEDGE TO LEAD IN MANY FIELDS, SAYS NEW BOSS. Report by ERWIN CHLANDA.

As the Federal government looks set to work towards a policy of depopulation of desert Australia, because of its amply demonstrated failure to become viable, the man now heading up the Alice Springs based Desert Knowledge Australia (DKA) wants our leaders to go the other way.
"It's fundamental to our national being that these areas are inhabited and used in a positive and constructive way," says the organisation's new chairman, Fred Chaney.
He's calling for "social and economic circumstances in desert Australia with the same promise and good elements as coastal Australia which is where most Australians live."
He has no illusions about the magnitude of the task: governance structures, for example, are "very much a work in progress".
They must be changed to "ensure the orderly administration of remote areas, and their continued advancement rather than their decline.
"They are very big challenges, and I think Australia isn't alone in not having dealt with those challenges very adequately in the past.
"It's notorious, of course, that the population drift is not towards the interior but towards the coast."
He quotes an acquaintance: "We have [in desert Australia] a treasure trove environmentally, we have a treasure trove culturally, and the challenge for us is to say, how do we realise on that."
That we've mostly blown it in the recent past is something Mr Chaney admits readily, notwithstanding his key role as Minister for Aboriginal Affairs during the birth of land rights - 30 years old and still cruelly short of its early promises: "The success of what governments and communities have attempted has been much less than what they would have hoped," says Mr Chaney.
"It's been a long and slow process, and many of the current outcomes are still very unsatisfactory.
"We all know the social statistics.
"It's a very depressing mantra, repeating these statistics.
"I am passionate about this. It's simply not adequate to me that we do so badly in so many parts of remote Australia.
"And I think that can be changed.
"DKA will be tilling fields which have been tilled before, with a lower level of success than people had hoped.
"On the other hand there are some signs of progress.
"You have to learn from past successes as well as past failures."
And these sparse successes will be the starting point for Mr Chaney at DKA.
Just before the interview with the Alice News last week he'd been speaking with the CEO of the Halls Creek Shire, a regular adviser on how to get real changes, such as the breaking up of civic works contracts into small chunks so that local entrepreneurs have a better chance of winning them.
The rubbish collection contract in Halls Creek has now been awarded to a local Aborigine using his own equipment.
Mr Chaney was part of another win, as one of the deputy presidents of the National Native Title Tribunal, when Argyle diamond mines blasted ahead with a local employment scheme.
More than a quarter of the jobs are now held by Aborigines, mostly from the East Kimberleys, he says.
Local employment is close to 50 per cent.
"This is shifting wealth back into that community," he says, instead of being "leached away into Perth and elsewhere."
[This is in contrast with the experience at the Granites Gold Mine in Central Australia where - despite the present owners' sustained and credible efforts - just 10 per cent of the staff are Aboriginal, and only a handful of these are locals.]
Perth-based Mr Chaney brings to the job nearly four decades of mostly high level engagement in the affairs of the outback, and the influential national and international contacts such a life is rewarded with.
He started work as a solicitor for two years in New Guinea, then became mining legend Lang Hancock's in-house lawyer, and maintained his interest in mining after returning to his own law practice.
Along the way, in 1961, he became an Aboriginal voting rights activist as a member of the Liberal Club, and in the 1970s helped set up an Aboriginal legal service in WA.
In a long political career for the Liberal Party he was Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, helped shape the Land Rights Act he describes as "then contentious", and held the Social Security portfolio.
He was tipped a likely leader of the party.
In Opposition Mr Chaney was Senate Leader, and spokesman for industrial relations, industry, commerce, and the environment.
After politics he maintained his interest in Aboriginal affairs by working for the Council of Aboriginal Reconciliation, which at the end of its statutory term set up Reconciliation Australia. He was the chairman for four years and is still a board member.
Given the wide brief of DKA, well beyond the clever gadgets and bricks and mortar often associated with it, and explicitly embracing social and governance initiatives, Mr Chaney says DKA may well from time to time bite the hand that feeds it - the NT Government.
"I think DKA has to speak honestly about the issues it deals with, and that can include, of course, being a critic of government," he says.
"I think the governments in Australia have very seldom faced up to the infrastructure issues in remote Australia.
"We have a maldistribution in the sense that states and territories are given funds because of remoteness and Aboriginality, and I would suggest that those funds are very seldom devoted to issues of remoteness and Aboriginality.
"I think Desert Knowledge will be entitled to an independent voice on issues which affect desert Australia, and I would certainly only take this job on the basis that I'll be an independent chairman and I expect my board to be an independent board.
"The statute provides that the Northern Territory Government may issue directions to Desert Knowledge Australia.
"I anticipate that they will not be frequent, and if directions are given that they will be public and it will be known to the public to what extent the government is restricting in any way the independence of DKA."
Mr Chaney, who will be part-time (unpaid) in his DKA position until he finishes his contract with the Native Title Tribunal in 15 months' time, says: "I've been to too many celebrations of openings and not enough celebrations of achievements.
"I think it's better to celebrate achievement than to celebrate ambition, to being a 'gunna'."
In the Graham (Polly) Farmer Foundation, which he helped set up to educate kids in remote areas, there was a policy of "substantial outcomes" before public statements were made.
That meant putting several disadvantaged students through Year 11 or 12, or getting them apprenticeships and university education, "and instead of being on CDEP, being in substantial employment and on substantial wages in substantial enterprises.
"That is to me totally consistent with the objectives of Desert Knowledge Australia" whose networking opportunities "can be used to spread best practice".



BOOK CELEBRATES KILGARIFF FAMILY'S GENEROSITY. Reviw by KIERAN FINNANE.

If you're like me, you'll turn the pages of this handsomely produced biography of that Alice Springs institution, Bern and Aileen Kilgariff, to look at all the photos of Aileen when she was young. There's something so sunny, so optimistic in that smile and my first curiosity was to find out what fuelled it and how it fared during the demanding years ahead.
The photographic evidence is that it survived well, notwithstanding the raising of 11 children with all the joy, challenges and sometimes sadness that that can entail, the running of first a poultry farm, then the Oasis Motel, and being the wife of a politician, who retired only to become a pastoralist!
Aileen reveals that her father had aspired to political office and her mother had warned her against marrying a politician. "And I didn't," she says. "All I did was marry this really great poultry farmer. Or so I thought."
Bern wasn't to stand for election until 20 years later, but by then his official involvement in public life was already extensive, starting with his appointment to the first NT Housing Commission in 1959 and appointment to the Administrator's Council in 1961.
This side of the family history is well known , although in seeing it brought together in this book you can't help but be amazed by the sheer amplitude and longevity of all of Bern's achievements and commitments.
He had a central role in the creation of the CLP, was elected to the Legislative Council in 1968 and became one of the first senators from the Territory in 1975. He held elected office until 1987 and was never defeated in an election.
Theirs has been a generous life. I already knew from my interviews of long time locals over the years how many have expressed a debt of gratitude towards the Kilgariffs. This is underlined by various accounts in the book, though perhaps none so touching as that of their adopted son Andrew.
He was seven years old when he came to the Kilgariffs for a holiday, from a Catholic orphanage in Adelaide.
"When the time came I just didn't go back Mum and Dad must have arranged that with the orphanage. I just went off with the other kids and started at the convent school "
By Fran Kilgariff's account it was the other children who had refused to let him go back: "He was always loved as one of us."
When Andrew grew up and got married, he and his wife adopted their first child. He wanted to "give one child the same chance that I got".
Of his parents he says: "Mum and Dad are all about helping other people and giving them chances in life that they wouldn't otherwise have had, they did that for me and they have done it for so many people."
A legacy to be proud of and that they have made contributions to Territory life in so many other fields makes them the worthy subject of this biography, They Started Something, launched today and written and published by community historians Peter and Sheila Forrest.


Smone don't like it hot. COLUMN by VIKTORIA CORMACK.

This summer has been the hottest I have experienced in Alice - at least it feels that way although I don't have the figures to prove it.
The heat used to drive me up the wall and the weather forecasts made me both angry and depressed during my first summers here.
I had to spend quite a bit of time sitting in the bath just to survive.
These days I consciously avoid weather forecasts and I don't look at the thermometer. It is better not to know.
I move around very slowly and have frequent quick showers before I sit down under a fan while the house and the family turn wild around me, like a jungle.
The spiders, ants and centipedes are becoming increasingly common, with regular culling and relocations having to take place.
At least jungles have decent storms and not just clouds building up teasingly, only to drift off without sharing a single drop. And unlike the plants in my garden, if it can actually be called that at present, the jungle plants thrive. I feel pale and listless like a wilted plant myself.
Number of days above 40 degrees cannot begin to describe the effect the heat has on you. Not being able to turn the air-conditioning off at all for days on end and having it constantly humming in the background.
"Heat makes people mean", I read somewhere recently, and it certainly brings out the worst in me. I'm like a stick of dynamite without a fuse.
I have felt meaner than I would like to feel and a bit guilty for being so relieved that the children have finally gone back to school.
We didn't go away at all these school holidays and I think we were all getting fed up with each other. You can only watch so much TV.
Children need to be able to run around and to play games outdoors, but cursed with bad ear infections, even the pools were off limits for them.
The 'build up' in the Top End might make people go 'troppo', but in Alice we just get more irritable and cranky in the summer heat. Apparently crime and violence increase in cities like New York when they get very hot weather.
It would be interesting to see if the same applies for the Alice. It might make a good defence.
Women seem to find the heat more difficult to handle. Whether that is because the women I know spend more time at home than their partners, or because they are still the ones doing most of the housework I don't know. Maybe women are more sensitive to heat than men, something to do with more fat and less body.
This summer I have heard more people than usual say that they have had enough. That they will be looking for a new place to live interstate, or at least be putting in a pool.
But then, in the middle of summer when at times it seems impossible that we will ever be cool and comfortable again of course we are going to say "never again", like a woman who has just gone through childbirth.
As soon as it cools down we will think that it isn't so bad after all. We do have a pretty good life here and there are good and bad things everywhere, so why leave?
In the meantime I'm working on my coping strategies to battle not only the high temperatures and humidity but the boredom.
To be told to be patient feels like an insult. Hibernation sounds good but isn't an option.
I have found reading and swimming keep me below boiling point and I've enjoyed watching lots of DVDs and eating peaches and mango ice cream.
Forced to slow down we are forced to take notice. If you cannot do anything because it is too hot, you can at least become more aware of the things around you.
Take the opportunity to think, to hear the birds singing and chattering outside despite all their hardships. It may be hot but at least I can feel it.
I can feel that I'm alive.


LETTERS: We're not short of water.

Sir,- The draft Alice Springs Water Strategy deals only with that section of the Mereenie basin that immediately effects Alice Springs. That is an area of less than 500 square kilometers. This area covers a small corner of the North Amadeus basin, which is an area of 21,000 square kilometers.
In that part of the area covered by the report, that is less than one fortieth of the Mereenie basin, there is shown to be a volume of water of over 5,000,000 megalitres.
Of this amount of water, 1,800,000 megalitres is classified under Australia wide rules of management of water resources as a "consumptive pool" which is basically the amount of water that can be economically extracted without damaging the resource.
Of this amount 80 per cent can be extracted over the next 100 years without damaging the resource, according to the draft strategy report.
In Australia the capacity of the water in Sydney harbor is often used as a comparative measurement of the capacity of a dam. One Sydney harbor holds 500,000 megalitres of water. It is worth noting here that the 5,000,000 megalitres of water that is available at economical pumping depths in this section of the Mereenie is equivalent to the capacity of 10 Sydney Harbors, which is a little larger than Lake Argyle, and around half the total storage in the Snowy River Scheme.
The draft strategy report points out the area of Mereenie under consideration is hydraulically connected to the rest of the North Amadeus basin aquifer, which is at least 40 times as great as the 5,000,000 megalitres in the strategy area, which means that Alice Springs has a back up supply of water of 400 Sydney Harbors.
On top of this the Amadeus Basin extends for a further 150,000 square kilometers all of which is hydraulically connected.
It makes one wonder in the light of these statistics, which are well known in engineering circles, how it can be claimed that Alice Springs is short of water.
The "consumptive pool" of water allocated for Alice Springs, 80 per cent of 1,800,000 megalitres over the next 100 years, is more than enough to cover a town at least twice the size of the present population with its present consumption rate, according to the draft strategy report.
The extraction of water from the extraction area will over that time encourage the movement of water from the enormous deposit of water contained in the rest of the basin.
Put it this way, in its most primitive form, it is very hard to pump water out of a lake on one end of the lake, without affecting the other end.
Alice Springs has as an asset, a water potential, far greater than any other city in the Commonwealth.
If Sydney, Melbourne and Adelaide combined had the back up of Alice Springs water supply they would think life was always Christmas.
The danger is of course that one of these days those people will wake up to the fact that Central Australia has this enormous supply of water just ready for the taking.
Some people consistently complain about the amount of water per head of population that Alice Springs people consume compared to other cities.
They always seem to forget that Alice Springs is the driest city in the Australia.
Green lawns and exotic plants are vital to the comfort offered to the residents of Alice Springs.
It is an unfortunate fact in the life of Alice Springs that the Northern Territory Government is incapable of supporting two growth areas.
Each government has made sure that Alice Springs growth will be strangled in preference to the growth of Darwin. This strangulation was first achieved by the restriction of land for urban development.
An adverse report on the future long term water supply for the town would complete the strangulation process.
Jim Brown
Alice Springs
ED - Attempts by the Alice Springs News to verify what is being proposed in the water strategy, and what assumptions about known resources are being made, were rebuffed by senior officer of the Department of Natural Resources, Environment and The Arts, John Childs, and media advisor James Pratt.
Information available on the Net, including minutes of the strategy's steering committee, is extensive but not always easy to follow or understand.
The committee seem to be proposing that no more than 25 per cent of the maximum yield from the Amadeus Aquifer be consumed over the next 100 years. At present consumption of 80 per cent of the maximum yield over 100 years is allowable. That means a reduction by some 60 per cent.
An informed source, who declined to be named, explained that this does not mean a reduction of present actual consumption, which is about 16 to 18 per cent over 100 years. The 25 per cent allows for a 1.5 per cent increase in public water supply and for new horticultural demands.
The source says this scenario ensures a water supply for Alice Springs for well over the next 300 years. However, unless massive gains can be made through greater water efficiency (which should included surely better uses of our waste water - and the government is slow to run with this one) the scenario also seems to be one of limited growth for the town.
The strategy will be reviewed in 10 years' time.
It is now in its final stages of completion, and will shortly be considered by the Minister and the government, who "in due course" will make public statements, according to Mr Pratt.


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